Copyright Information

Copyright Law Summary
Educators have unique opportunities to model ethical behavior and integrity as they carry out their assignments with students. One such occasion occurs frequently with issues surrounding the copyright law. Creation of new curriculum materials, more efficient means of sharing ideas including the Internet, pressures to create more and more elegant performances, and production of multimedia presentations are all current topics which require an understanding of the copyright law.

Legal Background

The copyright law is founded in the Constitution, Article 1 Section 8, which guarantees authors, inventors, artists, etc. protection of their works “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” As interpreted by the latest Copyright Act (Jan. 1, 1978) and related court decisions, “any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, which can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated…” is protected under this act. This would include all written works, videotape and laser recordings, motion pictures, art works, printed or recorded music, and computer software. Copyright owners are given exclusive control and rights to:
NOTE: reproduction of the work preparation of derivative works from the original distribution of copies for sale, lease, rent, or loan public performance and/or public display of their work
Educators, researchers, reporters, scholars, and critics argue that the law is too limiting to allow them to conduct their normal roles. While educators may argue their use is for “non-profit,” the courts have held that this, in and of itself, is insufficient rationale for qualifying as “Fair Use”. Clearly, instructional use and commercial use are different. Inclusion of copyrighted materials within items intended to be resold would receive different interpretations by the courts than using those same materials in the instructional process. As a result, a set of guidelines (Copyright Act, Section 107) have evolved attempting to balance the interests of the copyright owners and the needs of these groups to have “Fair Use” access to various kinds of materials. This “Fair Use” access is also known as “Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption”.
To help teachers evaluate appropriate “Fair Use” of copyrighted materials in all formats, the following five requirements should be met when using copyrighted materials
  • The “work” is shown in the classroom or other similar place devoted to instruction. (This excludes the auditorium and the media center, unless it is for “classroom instruction”)
  • The “work” is shown by the teacher or a student (or guest lecturer)
  • The “work” is shown as part of a regular instructional activity and the teacher is present with the students “Face-t0-Face” (this excludes reward and entertainment activities)
  • The “work” must be lawfully obtained copy
  • The “work” is shown in a non-profit institution